Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is this an obsession I see before me

I am starting to expect to read a headline about 'Immigrants launch gas attack' only to read on and find some poor Polish worker farted. It is an obsession, and it is global! If you type immigration into Google news there are over 40,000 returns, over 500 since 9am this morning. The over-riding theme, there are too many immigrants, the language is about being 'swamped', they are a tide, and they question notions of state and nationhood. Even reports on the maiden trip of Eurostar talk about the importance of restricting it use by illegal immigrants.

I find it all a little disturbing that this is being turned into such a major issue yet there is little discussion about the causes of this 'tide' that is 'swamping' nations. Equally it creates a sense of them and us, we who have lived here for some time, maybe were born here, and them the recent intruders. The problem that goes unrecognised is that we probably would not have toilets cleaned, buildings built, buses driven, food to enjoy, our health cared for, without immigrants. While we are buys stirring up a panic consider firstly how many people who were born elsewhere in the world have played a key positive role in your lives so far. The consider how far back any of us can trace our lineage, and see at which point we stop being 'us' and turn into 'them'.

What disturbs me is that the populist sections of the media turn immigration into a scare story without any real discussion of all the facts, just the ones that support their story. This leads the public to think about immigration, and perhaps view all immigration as bad and immigrants as dangerous etc etc. Then the politicians are allowed to also adopt a nationalist line without fear of criticism, where does that leave us? Being nationalist and proud of a nation is not racist; but treating all outsiders as a threat is. There seems to me to be a fine line that is in danger of being crossed by the public mood, and that is crossed daily by elements of the media.

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